Since 1997, Stockholm d-beat masters Victims have carved themselves an immovable position in the crust punk underground and for me to sit here and tell you the history of the band I’d be wasting my time.  They do a better job of it on their very own websites, so why should some schmuck like me try to tell you their story.  My involvement is that of a longtime fan that is always excited for their output; well, fuck me horizontally on an upsidedown cross if Sirens might not just be their best, most concise blast of irresistible hardcore punk yet.  Fans of Rancid and Green Day and the mainstream stuff can go kill themselves because this album is a blast of the purest punk around with influences drawn from Discharge, Amebix, Nausea, Misery, Inepsy, His Hero is Gone, From Ashes Rises and Motörhead…i.e. the real deal shit.  And if you’re worried about being able to sing-a-long to it, don’t fret because these tunes are more infectious than a sexually transmitted disease.

“Walls” sets the tone with amplifier feedback and drummer Andy Henriksson keeping his head down for a throat-throttling d-beat.  Johan Eriksson’s bass lines are thick, mucous-lathered expulsions that provided the perfect glue for holding tight to Jon Lindqvist and Gareth Smith’s riff after riff of metal stabbed hardcore punk riffing.  Melodic chord patterns spill over top of the coagulated madness with some killer, atonal leadwork really kicking this shit in the ass as Johan’s every burly, blown lung vocal resonates into a knife-edge hook that sticks to the brain while slicing it into halves.  Even catchier, “Errors” has one of those riffs that rides up and down the fretboard with insane asylum glee for the creation of mega-hooks that make me wish I was back at the Roboto Project and getting the air crushed out of my body in a doomsday, “wall of death” charge.  Harmonized melodic licks run roughshod over classic punk rock beat surgery until cut down by feral pick slides and rampaging vocal shouts meant to be fed back to the band in the live setting with a stern finger pointed in their direction.  Victims always knew how to pull this shit off and on a track like this they showcase that they’ve become modern day masters of the style.  This is the kind of punk rock I live and die by, enjoying it like a spear to the side with no gauze to stop the glorious bleeding.

A sludgy, stop/start lurch interrupted by melodic chords soon turns to d-beat devastation in the mutant melodicism of “Reverse.”  The dual riffs take all of the right dips and hardened downturns while maintaining energy only concerned with forward propulsion.  Again, simple yet effective harmonized licks casts off some of the boozy, kegger blasts of Annihilation Time and Inepsy but the constant thrashing sweeps are sure to please crusties like me who made Discharge their bible long ago (keep your eyes peeled for a frenetic rock n’ roll solo much later on!).  I mean, fuck man, I’m probably doing Victims a disservice by analyzing this shit with so much depth because this is the absolute primal elements of punk here…nothing more, nothing less but goddamn if I can’t just help but dig into the meat of these songs a little more than a simple, surface level analysis.  “Seven” is one of the most thrashing compositions on the record with howling guitar squeals and riffs so wasted you’re bound to get whiplash from head-banging so hard and there’s a textbook drum’ n’ bass tempo break which only serves as a setup for the bladestorm of violent guitar cuts to come.  A broken distress signal channeled through an amplifier sets “Storm” into perpetual sonic motion where the doubled-up guitar riffs benefit from swamp sucking basslines.  The anthem-ready thrashing is overflowing with memorable riffage spasms, staccato thrash churns, melodic guitar leads and enough vitriol to challenge the nastiest crust bands in the business.

If you’re expecting a slowdown as the album unkindly tosses you into its second half, you won’t get it with “Turn,” a volume overload of swooping, descending crust grooves, call n’ response vocal pukes and a forceful rhythm section that calls to mind the best Misery had to give us.  Further expanding on “Turn’s” unholy beating, “Promises” slices its way into existence with lung-raped vocals expressing the timeless crust punk ideals of never giving a fuck and never giving into what the bastards in power try to impose upon us.  The second half introduces a palm-muted, melodic riff-chug designed for fist-pumping and seizure moshing of the highest caliber while a white-washed, noise-guitar lick drags things to a death knell close.  Radio amp static introduces “Heal” which barrels into an uber-melodic and melancholically catchy lead guitar romp.  These moments always set Victims apart from the pack and always made the impending overload of damnation punk riffs all the more punishing whenever they appear.  Thanks to the noticeable duality in this tune, it’s an instant standout on an album chockful of top-notch material.  The title track leads in with a stuttered military drum march that doesn’t take long to go d-beat batshit on your ass with no offer of mercy placed on the table for your sorry soul.  After a lengthy, atonal guitar drone “Behind” goes full Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing until it adopts some drippy, almost pretty melodic textures with cleaner guitars and fluid low-end grooves giving way to a climbing, scaling solo that’s on the melodic tip of the genre.  The ripped throat, boot-pressed larynx shouts also stick in your head like peanut butter and cum, making for the perfect shout your head off anthem while driving your car at blazingly fast, reckless speeds.  “Questions” continues the breakneck abuse until closer “Ashes” fucks with the darker, more melodic textures of modern Amebix, a little Tau Cross and Neurosis with somber, sludgy riffs pushing and driving amidst ringing minor key chords and sharper, focused grooves.  The twin guitar layering in this one is to die for, closing the album on an eerie, begotten note.

Sirens just further proved why Victims should be a household name in crust punk circles.  They are one of the best bands currently going and they’ve yet to release a bum track, let alone a bum album.  I’m not good at picking favorites and sometimes I feel like I’m second guessing myself when saying a band’s latest album is their best, but you can’t fuck with Sirens.  This is Victims firing on cylinders they’ve yet to blow our eardrums with.  As far as rough n’ tumble punk albums go, I doubt you’ll hear a better one this year!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
April 12th, 2016


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